A turbulent life

From her early years, Benazir Bhutto’s life has been touched by politics and death.

In December 1988, Bhutto took the oath as prime minister for the first time [AFP]

Benazir Bhutto’s life has been largely affected by her father’s role in Pakistani politics. As the founder of the Pakistan People’s Party and the country’s leader until his death in 1979, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto bequeathed his daughter the party leadership and a turbulent legacy that would one day seal her fate.

Benazir Bhutto’s political timeline

1953: Benazir Bhutto born on June 21 to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a politician who later becomes president and prime minister of Pakistan. He was overthrown in 1977 and executed by the military in 1979.

1973: Graduates from Harvard University with a degree in comparative government.

1976: Elected president of Oxford Union and becomes the first Asian woman to head the debating society.

1978: Benazir publishes her first book, Foreign Policy in Perspective.

1979: On April 4, Benazir’s life is rocked when her father Zulfikar Ali is hanged after a court says he is complicit in the murder of a political opponent. She returns to Pakistan and is placed under house arrest.

1980: Her brother, Shahnawaz, is killed in mysterious circumstances.

1984: Benazir allowed to leave Pakistan for the United Kingdom.

1986: Benazir returns to Pakistan to lead the Pakistan People’s Party, formed by her father in 1967.

1988: Military ruler Zia-ul-Haq is killed in a plane crash in the Punjab province. Several of his top generals and US Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Lewis Raphel are also killed.

1988: In November, Benazir leads her party to victory in nationwide elections. In December, she becomes prime minister, the first woman leader of a Muslim nation in modern history.

1989: Benazir publishes her second book, Daughter of the East.

1990: Benazir is accused of corruption and dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Her husband Asif Zardari is arrested on kidnap charges. She becomes the leader of the opposition. Nawaz Sharif becomes prime minister.

1993: Leading the opposition to an election victory, Benazir becomes president once again. She begins to cement ties with the military, which had been instrumental in her 1990 ouster.

1996: Corruption charges continue to dog Benazir and she is again dismissed from her post.

1998: With courts examining various corruption and kick-back charges against Benazir and her husband, the former Pakistani leader goes into self-imposed exile in Dubai.

2002: A constitutional amendment bars Benazir from holding a third term as prime minister should she win future elections or running in parliamentary elections.

2004: Benazir’s husband is released from jail after serving eight years on corruption charges.

2007: During the military siege of the Red Mosque in July, Benazir praises the actions of General Pervez Musharraf, the president, for not negotiating with pro-Taliban students who seized control of the mosque. Dozens of young Pakistani students were killed in the siege. Benazir is lambasted by families of those killed.

July 20: Benazir holds a secret meeting with Musharraf in Abu Dhabi and agrees to a possible power-sharing deal to sideline Sharif.

October 18: Benazir returns to Pakistan. She survives a suicide bomb attack which kills more than 130 of her supporters during a parade in the city of Karachi.

November 3: Musharraf imposes a state of emergency, suspends the  constitution and arrests key opposition figures, citing Islamic extremism and judicial interference.

November 9: Hours before a planned rally in the city of Rawalpindi, police put Bhutto under house arrest at her Islamabad home. The order is later lifted.

November 12: Bhutto rules out further power-sharing talks with  Musharraf. She is placed under house arrest again to prevent her  leading a mass procession.

November 13: Bhutto for the first time urges Musharraf to resign  and says she will never serve under him as prime minister.


November 16: Musharraf swears in the interim government. Bhutto is  freed from house arrest. US Deputy Secretary of State John  Negroponte arrives in Islamabad and speaks to Bhutto by telephone

December 27: Benazir Bhutto is killed by a suicide bomber who first fired shots at her before blowing himself up during an election rally in Rawalpindi, 14km south of Islamabad.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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